Rome (AsiaNews) - "The Catholics have not suffered repression”. Safe in the certainty that it can not be contradicted, at least on home soil, even by the facts, the government run Vietnam News Agency, thus headlines a note that appeared on 6 January on the issue of the destroyed cross in Dong Chiem. In it, it states that "AsiaNews.it has spread defamatory stories about the recent removal of the illegally erected cross on Mount Nui Che", “rebroadcast by Vatican Radio and Radio Maria, spreading misunderstanding and concern in the international community".
Meanwhile, we note how the incident has been described. The VNA speaks of the "removal" of the crucifix, which gives the idea of a thing being taken apart, which can later be reassembled. In reality, as Bishop Francis Nguyen Van Sang and AsiaNews reported, the cross was blown up with explosives by military officers. Following a similar line, other pro-government sources, such as Hanoi Moi and the Voice of Vietnam, wrote that "the faithful destroyed the cross after being trained by the government and acknowledging their wrong behaviour ...."
We do not know if these are the same five believers who were arrested on January 7, the day after the "removal" of the cross, or the two who ended up in hospital (there are pictures) for protesting along with many others, all beaten, or JB Nguyen Huu Vinh , a Catholic journalist assaulted and left unconscious in the street as he tried to inquire about the incident. Or the thousands of parishioners of Ham Long who wanted to go to the mountain and who were apprehended by the police who seized the license of the bus drivers, or the hundreds of parishioners in Ham Long that, instead, used their motorcycles, and passed. Or those who even used boats in their attempt to reach the mountain. Or the two thousand of the nearby parish of Nghia Ai who, together with local faithful, staged a protest outside the office of the People's Committee Jan13.
Neither is it clear why many Vietnamese bishops have taken up the cause of these "Catholics who have not suffered repression”. Bishops such as Joseph Nguyen Van Yen, of Phat Diem, who went in person to express solidarity or Msgr. Michael Hoang Duc oang, Bishop of Kon Tum, who, unable to travel to Dong Chiem, sent a letter of solidarity with Msgr. Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, archbishop of Hanoi, under whose jurisdiction the parish of Dong Chiem falls. Or why on January 7the vice-chancellor of the very same archdiocese, Father John Le Trong Cung, called destruction of the cross "a true sacrilege" the. He added "brutally assaulting unarmed and innocent civilians is a savage and inhuman act, which seriously injures human dignity. This senseless conduct must be condemned".
Perhaps, rather than bothering to "blur" the facts, the Vietnamese leaders should listen to the 10 bishops of the north of their country, who have called on the authorities not to use measures that might create "further discontent, anger and distrust among the population" and confirm their willingness to "collaborate with the government" for the good of the country and the construction of a "great family" where all members can peacefully coexist. Without the risk of "not suffering repression."